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Violinist’s Jewelry Hobby Turns to an Award-Winning Fashion Brand

Violinist’s Jewelry Hobby Turns to an Award-Winning Fashion BrandKatie Waltman Jewelry, www.katiewaltman.com

Date started?

Jan, 2011

Designer jewelry

Violinist’s Jewelry Hobby Turns to an Award-Winning Fashion Brand

Katie started making jewelry as a hobby about 11 years ago with our grandma. Over the years, friends who bought jewelry from Katie loved it, and it quickly spread throughout Salt Lake City, and was eventually picked up by 2 boutiques. In late 2010 I, her brother, realized the opportunity when Katie was awarded “Best Bling of Utah” by Salt Lake Magazine, and I decided to partner with her to help her expand. At that point, Katie had a pretty strong bead collection, but no money to begin the expansion. We took a trip to California and purchased about $7,000 of materials on both business and personal credit cards. Around that time Katie was able to get our largest account to date, which helped to pay off the credit card bills. Still for the next 4 months or so, Katie lived off her earnings as a violin teacher and my wife was the one putting the bread on our table, enabling us to get a good start on the business without taking a paycheck.

Violinist’s Jewelry Hobby Turns to an Award-Winning Fashion BrandWe save money by using Google docs and Gmail accounts, and saved enough money to fund trips to trade shows in Seattle and San Francisco. The jewelry was very well received at those shows, and the profits have been used to fund the development of a retail website, which has been able to pay for itself with online sales generated. We are trying to change the way that small boutique owners order fashion jewelry like ours. Traditionally, shop owners have gone to those types of shows periodically several times a year to buy what they need. Because entrance fees for those shows are expensive, we want to spend the money on developing a friendly website for them to buy from. If we are able to succeed in this effort, we will be able to provide faster and more flexible ordering for shop owners who oftentimes have a difficult time keeping track of their inventory. They will be able to make last minute orders and receive in-season fashion jewelry without ordering months in advance.

Violinist’s Jewelry Hobby Turns to an Award-Winning Fashion BrandOn the other hand, we have used facebook and other social media to let retail customers know about sales, and have tried many things to try to get free press coverage. We got a little ahead of ourselves when we signed on with a jewelry rep in NYC, but we saw huge potential with how well the jewelry was received. Have a look at this Youtube that came from one of the customers they were able to help us get.

We have scaled back temporarily to organize our structures and processes a little better so that we will be able to handle a dramatic increase of customers in the future. It truly is a trial and error process in business. We have learned that you just need to get out there and try your best without being too afraid of the reaction you get. The reaction just helps you to improve your business. We have under 10 employees at the time, and have been very cautious in how and when we hire, but we are hoping to hire more to meet our future production demands. I feel great about the way that we have expanded without any loans because, although we have scary times when we can’t cash our paychecks, everything has always worked out for us SO FAR! (cross my fingers!)

Violinist’s Jewelry Hobby Turns to an Award-Winning Fashion BrandThe best advice I never got (meaning never understood) was how important planning can be in your marketing strategy. We have pretty much flown by the seat of our pants and tried many different types of marketing schemes and sales approaches, but I think we could have saved a lot of time and effort by sitting down and planning out our strategy and priorities. For example, making decisions about whether to focus more on wholesale or retail sales, or whether to do more online sales or home shows. At this point, we have learned a lot about what our customers respond to, and what provides the best ROI for us, but we still have a lot to learn. One strategy that has been very successful for us is finding popular blogs and doing giveaways on them. It gets our name out there and provides lots of clicks to our website, plus it is very affordable.

Whether Katie Waltman Jewelry is acquired by another company or not is not as important to us as making it able to function without our daily supervision. We would like to create an organization that is able to consistently provide beautiful jewelry to customers with minimal wasted effort. By being efficient within the organization, we will be able to pass our savings on to the customer. We believe that as long as we continue to provide a fashion forward and high-quality line of jewelry, our customers will continue to come back. They will continue to trust the “Handmade in the USA” label.

Thank you for reading about Katie Waltman Jewelry, please visit katiewaltman.com to see pictures of us and our creations.

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